Over the course of his last eight books, Tim Green has been getting
better and better --- sharpening his plots, honing his characters
and taking bigger leaps forward. If there was any doubt that Green
had fully arrived with THE FIFTH ANGEL, his last novel, the issue
should be resolved with THE FIRST 48.
Green's prologue contains some of the best writing he has ever
done, setting up this fine tale of a murky bioterrorist plot, a
reporter who gets too close to a story and a fallen soul with a
final chance at redemption. The latter is Tom Redmon, a former
prosecutor who picked the wrong man to go after. That man was
Michael Gleason, then the heir of a wealthy family, now a powerful,
if not entirely respected, U.S. Senator. When we meet him, Redmon
is an alcoholic attorney, haunted by the gentle ghost of his wife
and busily jousting at legal windmills with little or no success.
His only real joys are his daughter Jane, a rookie reporter for the
Washington Post, and his friend Mike Tubbs, a physical and
intellectual bear of a man.
When Jane begins receiving information from an anonymous source
that is detrimental to Gleason, she leaps at the chance to write a
story about the man who ruined her father's life. Gleason learns of
the story and takes immediate steps to put the skids to it ---
permanently. Jane goes missing, and Redmon and Tubbs are galvanized
into immediate action.
Redmon knows there is a school of thought that holds that if a
person is missing, they are, more often than not, dead by the first
48 hours after their disappearance. Green niftily transforms this
factoid into a plot device, as Redmon stays conscious of how much
time has elapsed since his daughter's disappearance, literally
racing against the clock to find her. Jane's trail leads to an
isolated island off the coast of upstate New York that houses a
mysterious research facility with a secret that has the potential
to jeopardize, and save, the entire East Coast. Jane, meanwhile, is
either being rescued or kidnapped. Or both.
THE FIRST 48 is a great ride. Tubbs and Redmon are Green's most
memorable characters to date; Redmon's penchant for appropriately
spouting off quotations from history's most famous and successful
military leaders is an interesting sidebar to his personality. Fans
of John Grisham who have yet to discover Green will be delighted to
do so with this novel, and should set aside some time to
familiarize themselves with Green's bibliography while they're
waiting for his next novel.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011